For 18 long hours, Paula Dahl, a grandmother from West Lothian, feared that her beloved dog, Ronny, had died after the Yorkie-Shitzu cross got trapped in a rabbit hole while out for a walk at Murieston Castle Dog Park in Livingston. The ground had collapsed around the five-year-old canine, burying him alive, which prompted a desperate search by Paula and her friends. They eventually called off the search on Friday night, only to resume it early the following morning.
As hope began to fade, local dog rescue expert Hazel Gowans was contacted to lend a hand. Despite having dislocated her knee, Hazel took pain medication and quickly assembled a rescue team to save Ronny. She brought her rescue dog, Thor, along and used an item carrying Paula's scent to help him locate the trapped dog. After identifying the correct burrow, Thor's barking confirmed Ronny's presence.
With time running out, Hazel got on her hands and knees to dig Ronny out of the mud that had packed tightly around him, immobilising him completely. Paula's eight-year-old grandson described the experience as terrifying, and the family was relieved when Ronny was finally pulled out just after 1 pm on Saturday. Apart from a scratch on his eye, the dog was in good shape, but Paula remained in shock, having believed her pet was dead.
Hazel's determination to find Ronny quickly was evident in her use of a heat-detecting camera and preparations to deploy a drone. She even suggested cooking sausages on a disposable BBQ to lure the dog out with the scent. Hazel's expertise in training her dog to trace scents played a crucial role in the successful rescue mission. Her dog, Thor, had tracked Ronny to a specific hole in a rabbit warren near the one Paula thought he had entered.
Working gently by hand to avoid causing further cave-ins, Hazel and the rescue team managed to free Ronny's head, shoulders, and front paws. The dog then helped dig himself out, emerging filthy but unfazed. After being comforted by Paula and the family, Ronny appeared no worse for wear.